March 14, 2009

Papers folding like paper


The US newspaper industry is looking like a spotted dick. The single blue spot (medium sized, over on the right, top quartile area) is the only one with growth, all other spots indicate readership decline.

It's impossible to fold a piece of paper in half more than eight times.

Unless you fold in accordance with the right equation, for example, like so:

In which case, the fact of not being able to fold a piece of paper in half more than eight times becomes a lie, replaced with the new fact of not being able to fold a piece of paper in half more than 12 times.

That's something to think about next time you buy a newspaper, because they're folding ... err ... exactly like paper.

With some Interwebs business models turning out to be plastic turkeys (previous post), old media has long been sucking up the ugly reality of a receding readership like a bald man and his comb-over.

Most pundits and the unwashed commentariat have long done a little rain dance on the not yet dead print media, even while relying solely on such for their own spleen venting. The exceptions are not blogs in the amatuer sense, they're news sites with traditional journalists being paid in the traditional manner, to go forth and report on the traditional things - for such sites (mostly counted on one hand) being published online and not in hardcopy is the only break with the tried and true nonpartisan reporting tradtion. What's also missing, other than paper, is long term investigations and depth of analysis.

This comment, in full glorious ignorance, is apparently where we're heading:

"Come on, folks, it's not 1920. We can actually get along without newspapers. There are so many other ways to communicate that are faster, cheaper, and just as effective. Besides, if the market can't support a newspaper - or for that matter, a car dealership, an opera, or a locally-owned bank - then so be it. The public has spoken."

Because, sure, newspapers are about "communicating", and you can do that on Twitter with only 140 characters. So there! The public has spoken and the words are brief and free.

On the Interwebs, everyone is equal, and partisan opinion-puff fights it out to the death. And while so occupied, no one provides checking or balancing of organisations that rule, and sometimes ruin, the world.

The fourth estate exists for a reason, with its diminishing force civility - and reason - will be lost.

NYTs - As cities go from two papers to one, talk of zero

2 comments:

  1. The fourth estate exists for a reason, with its diminishing force civility - and reason - will be lost.

    It has been the sidlining or "managing" of the fourth estate by those who exercise power - and that estate's aquiescence to it - that has so eroded those "checks and balances" over recent decades.

    How far away are we from "these are the subjects that questions may be addressed about and these are those questions"?

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  2. So far it has vanished over the horizon Bertie.

    When the GFC and POTUS are reported, in full flippancy, on gossip blogs, with the individuals and issues treated in exactly the same manner as a starlet arrested for a bad hair day, the fall of Western civilization can't be far behind.

    It is, alas, all but too late to rescue newspapers. They've already fired the staff who, once upon a time, were given time and budgets to carry out the serious job of original research. The loss is entirely ours.

    The world already has enough opinions, they're cheap. I even give mine for free.

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